The Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) announced on Wednesday that it is moving forward with their competitive commercial wind energy leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Massachusetts. However, the area being discussed has been reduced by 130 miles or about 13 percent.
The waters under consideration for possible wind farm development, known as the Wind Energy Area (WEA), start about 12 miles south of the Martha’s Vineyard coast. The redrawn zone is now approximately 743,000 acres.
This is the second time this year that BOEM has cut the WEA. Last February, the area was reduced from 3,000 to 1,300 square miles. According to a BOEM press release, the decision this month to further cut the WEA came after considering areas identified as important habitats to sea ducks and the endangered North Atlantic right whales that could be adversely affected if the area were developed with wind turbine generators. BOEM also reduced an area of high value fisheries to reduce conflict with commercial and recreational fishing activities
“The Wind Energy Area that we are announcing today is the result of extensive work with our partners in the Commonwealth and with a broad community of stakeholders as we move forward with responsible leasing and development of offshore wind resources,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “The area off of Massachusetts has tremendous energy generation potential, and we will continue to evaluate and mitigate the potential impacts of offshore wind energy development on wildlife habitat, fisheries and sea bird migration.”
BOEM is now conducting an environmental assessment of the newly defined area to evaluate the potential impacts on the right whales and effects on viewshed, among other things. They will also look into methods that might reduce potential impacts on these and other resources.
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